The Census Returns!

Posted on5 November 2015 | 1 comments

Naavdeep Bains Jean Yves DuclosHere’s what I wrote about the Census back in 2010:

The debate focuses on the long form. Those trying to axe the Census argue these questions are an invasion of privacy. “Why the hell should the government know what time I leave to go to work?” they shout angrily on their twitter accounts and in Toronto Sun editorials.

“Well,” the other side argues “so that cities can build roads and public transit to help you get to work on time. Duh.”

The reality is we live in an information age, and long form Census data is a valuable source of information. Governments use it to help plan communities and programs. Hospitals need it to provide the right kind of services and fight pandemics. Researches use it to track demographic trends over time. Masters students, like Stephen Harper, use it to write thesis papers. Think tanks, like the Fraser Institute, use it to prove their kooky right wing theories. And businesses use it all the time – just think of restaurants and grocery stores that sell ethnic foods or cater to specific client demographics.

Here’s what I wrote about it a year and a half ago:

I’ve never been of the opinion that Stephen Harper is a monster who has destroyed Canada beyond recognition. Even on issues where we disagree – the gun registry, climate change, Quebec as a nation – I understand where he’s coming from. However, of everything Harper has done, his decision to scrap the long form census remains the thing that boils my blood. Here was the party who sends Happy Hanukkah cards to swing voters calling the census too “intrusive”. It wasn’t an assault on the welfare state or big government, it was an assault on reason. It showed that Harper offered nothing more than government by truthiness.

And that, is why I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the next bit to help defeat him.

So it kind of goes without saying that I am elated by today’s announcement that the mandatory long-form census is coming back.


Posted on20 October 2015 | 3 comments


Three years ago, there were very real questions being asked about whether or not the Liberal Party would still exist after the next federal election. The party was in a death spiral, having fallen to just 35 seats in the previous election.

I was still blogging regularly at the time – this was long before I went to work for the party, and I still hadn’t even decided if I would actually vote for Trudeau in the leadership race (after all, Takachmentum and Mernermania was spreading across the land!). I summed up my reaction to Trudeau’s leadership launch with a blog post titled “Ready or Not”:

During this time, I suspect most Liberals secretly viewed Justin as “the next one” – that hot shot prospect you pin your hopes on. Like all prospects, the potential was there, but so was the risk he could bust and turn into the next Alexandre Daigle.

No one wanted to rush him to the majors this soon, and I’m sure Justin himself would have rather waited – but we’re in a situation where there may not be a Liberal Party for Justin Trudeau to lead in 10 years, so the time is now. Ready or not, here he comes.

The end result of this is a leadership race where no one really knows what to expect from the frontrunner. Yes, everybody has confidently written about how he’s destined to be the Liberal saviour or to go down in flames, but Justin is still very much an unknown so it’s all just speculation. A charity boxing match is not a gateway to the man’s soul. Just because he hasn’t been to outer space, it doesn’t mean he lacks substance or vision.

Justin Trudeau is a giant blob of untested potential who Liberals have been pinning their hopes on for many years. Yesterday, he finally got his call to the majors.

I never imagined we’d spend the next three years debating that very “ready or not” question.

Even Trudeau’s harshest critics who cringe at the thought of him moving back into 24 Sussex will concede he had a good campaign. And part of the reason for that is because of his harshest critics. They made “ready to lead” the ballot question. Then, like Wile E. Coyote, set a series of traps that horribly backfired – a 78 day campaign and 5 debates, including one on foreign policy. This gave voters plenty of opportunities to look at Trudeau, and every time they did, the guy looked and sounded ready.

And that’s because he is.

Despite the accusation that he has had everything in his life handed to him, Trudeau has constantly been under-estimated, and has constantly exceeded expectations. We saw it when he won an open nomination to enter politics, when he wrestled a seat away from the Bloc in 2008, and when he survived the orange wave in 2011. We even saw it in the silly boxing match.

Having seen the man close up for the past 18 months, I can say that the reason he has constantly exceeded expectations is hard work and determination. Those characteristics are going to make him a very good Prime Minister.

The West is in

Posted on20 October 2015 | 5 comments

When I first started blogging over ten years ago, I wasn’t sure a night like tonight would ever come to pass. But, ladies and gentlemen, I present your first TWO Calgary Liberal MPs in over 40 years:

kent hehr

darshan kang

And a very honourable mention to Matt Grant in Calgary Confederation, who ran one of the best campaigns in the country, but fell oh so short.

Calgary Grits

Posted on19 October 2015 | 0 comments

For Calgary Liberals who have had doors slammed in their faces, who have been the punchline of countless political jokes, who have worked hard for great candidates only to see them in single digits on election night. For all of you, yesterday was truly gratifying.

Seeing the Liberal Party leader make TWO stops in Alberta the last day of an election campaign is unprecedented. Seeing him cheered by thousands at both stops is mind-blowing. I won’t prejudge the electorate, but regardless of how election night turns out, after a grueling 78 days, nothing warms my heart more than these images.




Real Change

Posted on10 October 2015 | 0 comments

Advance polls are open. Be sure to get out and vote.

The First Debate

Posted on15 August 2015 | 2 comments

Looks ready to me.

Politicians in Cowboy Hats 2015: Lassoing Votes, Stampeding to the Polls, and Other Puns

Posted on7 July 2015 | 0 comments

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014 round-ups – or “100 Years of Bad Photo-Ops

All eyes were on Calgary this weekend, as Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Thomas Mulcair kicked off the pre-election BBQ circuit. Despite the extra media attention, this year’s fashion round-up is a rather tame affair. When you get the truly horrible photo ops is during leadership races when Bay Street Liberals and Annex Socialists venture west for the first time. For the three men vying to win this fall’s election, this isn’t their first rodeo.

In what could very well be his final Stampede as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper leaves the leather vest at home.

In what could very well be his final Stampede as Prime Minister, it’s worth reflecting on Stephen Harper’s time in office. He may not have grown as a leader, but the man has certainly come a long way from the leather vest days.

I can see the attack ads now. "Just Trudeau flips pancakes 5 feet in the air. Do you want someone this  reckless in charge of the Canadian economy? In an uncertain economy, we need Stephen Harper's steady hand."

I can see the attack ads now. “Just Trudeau flips pancakes 5 feet in the air. Do you want someone this reckless in charge of the Canadian economy? In an uncertain economy, we need Stephen Harper’s steady hand.”

Props to Tom Mulcair for bringing the entire family, even if he got the Calgary hashtag wrong.

Since he brought his entire family, I’ll give Mulcair a pass for getting Calgary’s hashtag wrong.

And, of course, everyone had to get their picture with Calgary’s most photographed landmark, Naheed Nenshi.

nenshi with everyone

I assume this wasn’t Rachel Notley’s first Stampede, but this marks the first Stampede where anyone recognized Rachel Notley. That placed a lot of pressure on her, especially since Ed Stelmach called it the “Alberta Stampede” and looked completely out of place during his first Stampede as Premier.

Notley…well she rode a friggin’ horse. Anyone who rides a horse is deemed to have won at Stampeding. It’s that simple.


As for what’s left of the Alberta PCs? The good news is their entire Calgary caucus could carpool together in the parade this year.

Alberta PC caucus could share a car on the parade

Finally, we end this post on a sad note. After losing two nominations and being told “thanks but no thanks” in his bid to run for the most right wing party in Canada, this will mark Rob Anders’ final Stampede as an elected member of Parliament in Calgary. Luckily, Rob took it in stride and was still smiling.



No sooner had I posted this round-up, than Rachel Notley did the unthinkable, and was caught wearing her cowboy hat backwards.

harper notley3.jpg

As discussed above, a Premier’s first Stampede is a dangerous place.

Still, Notley gets credit for riding a horse and not grimacing like she was trapped in some kind of hillbilly horror show. As for her slip-up, the Post’s Jen Gerson put it best:

Mocking Notley for her imperfect grasp of the white Smithbilt during Stampede is a little like picking on a cosplay actor who misplaced the buttons on the breathing apparatus of a Darth Vader costume at ComiCon.

Almost Blue

Posted on30 June 2015 | 18 comments

Harper, Mulcair

These days, it must feel good to be Thomas Mulcair. The polls show he has a chance to become Canada’s first NDP Prime Minister, and the entire country has been engulfed in an orange afterglow since the Alberta election. But as Uncle Ben once said, with great polling comes great scrutiny.

Indeed, one of the downsides of surging four months before election day is that leaves a lot of time for journalists and voters to put everything you’ve ever said or done under the microscope, and study it at the atomic level.

So when you make the type of verbal slip-up we all make from time to time, people are a lot more likely to notice.

And when you’re one day re-affirming your opposition to the Clarity Act, and the next promising a round of constitutional negotiations, people notice.

And now this:

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair was in discussions in 2007 to join the Conservative party as a senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, discussions that several sources, including former senior Harper staffers, say was the first step in securing Mulcair to run as a Conservative candidate in 2008.

The negotiations between the Conservative government and the man who is today leader of the left-leaning official Opposition allegedly broke down over money: Mulcair wanted nearly double what Harper’s office offered, two sources tell Maclean’s.

Contacted today for comment, Mulcair says conversations about an advisory role with the government did occur, but talks broke down, not over money, but over the Conservatives’ environmental policies.

This has been talked about for some time, so it’s not a bombshell. It’s also not overly surprising if you think about it.

For most politicians, their greatest strength can be turned into a weakness. Stephen Harper is strong, but many call him authoritarian. Justin Trudeau is fresh, but the flip side of the coin is inexperience. Mulcair likes to portray himself as a politician with experience who knows how the game is played – but that also means he knows how the game is played. It’s only natural that a political pro like Mulcair would try to squeeze taxpayer dollars for partisan purposes, or would consider his options before jumping to federal politics.

Many will dismiss theses as allegations from the Conservative side of the negotiations, but the problem for Mulcair is that even his own side of the story will seem rather unseemly to many New Democrats. It’s all very good to say talks broke down over the environment, but I suspect most NDP voters have more than one stumbling block with the Harper government. Mulcair says he talked to at least three separate individuals about joining Harper’s team between 2006 and 2007. Most New Democrats, if asked to become an adviser to Stephen Harper, would laugh rather than set up a series of meetings to discuss terms.

The whole ordeal reminds me of the old joke:

Churchill: “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”
Socialite: “My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course… “
Churchill: “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?”
Socialite: “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!”
Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”

Whether the talks broke off due to money or a single issue is mostly irrelevant in this case. The fact that Mulcair was negotiating establishes what kind of man he is.

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